I'll be the first to admit that gourds have never, and probably will never make the cut for my list of favorite fruits. Those spots are reserved for cantaloupe, grapefruits, and the fruit with an indentity crisis: tomatoes. Despite my meh feeling towards the squash itself, this soup is actually high on my list of favorite soups, right up there with chicken soup and sausage and bean.

I originally took the idea for this soup from a recipe developer at Bon Appetit, Caroline Lange, who presented guidelines for making various versions of vegetable-coconut soups, without a recipe. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it. Using her guideline, I came up with a combination of flavors that I thought might help increase my desire for the Butternut Squash once and for all. For me, this meant finding a way to counteract all the sweetness and starchiness, so I use a blend of both warm and hot spices and alliums in addition to a very acidic herby dressing as a topping, and a final crunchy element of homemade croutons. I hope you like my version!

Equipment:

  • Immersion Blender: This one from Amazon is inexpensive and works well. I use it a ton, because I can't possibly imagine pulling out a big blender every time I need to puree a soup or sauce.
  • Dutch oven: You only really need 1 Dutch oven if its big enough for all your soup and braising needs. I have Martha Stewart's, which was gifted to me. It's usually pretty expensive at $260, but is currently on super sale at Macy's.
  • 6" Chef's Knife: This Wusthof knife is great for everyday use. It would be difficult to do all the cutting in this recipe without a good knife.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the soup

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed, cut into chunks. Try using a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. It'll take a few runs over, but it works. (see demonstration below)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each: cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and oregano
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk, shaken before opening.
  • S&P
  • olive oil

For the herb dressing

  • 2 large handfuls of herbs, finely chopped. I typically use a combination of parsley and cilantro.
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • The juice of half an orange
  • 2 tsp or "a splash" of red wine vinegar
  • 3TB Olive oil
  • S&P

For the Croutons:

  • 4 Slices of bread, cut into cubes
  • Olive oil

Steps:

Over medium-high heat, place a large dutch oven on the stove with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add the onions, jalapeño, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until they start to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Then add the squash and sauté for another 5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the warm spices and pinch of cayenne and sauté for 2 minutes. Finally, stir in tomato paste, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until you see a lot of browning on the bottom of the pot. Add the can of coconut milk, then fill the can with water and add water to the pot. Stir everything together and bring to a boil, then let simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes, until all veggies are very soft.

While soup is cooking, make your herb dressing and croutons. For the dressing, simply whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and season with pinches of salt and pepper.  

For the croutons, spread cubed bread onto the metal tray from your toaster oven and drizze with olive oil. Set toaster to bake on 400 until bread is toasted. Peek every couple minutes so it doesn't burn. If you don't have a toaster oven, you can use your actual oven, or you can toast whole pieces of bread in a bread toaster and then cube them after. No need for olive oil if you choose this last option.

When soup is finished simmering, and all the veggies are soft, use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it's completely smooth. Ladle soup into serving bows, top with croutons and dressing, and enjoy.